After the Museum tour and dropping by Radisson briefly to see who else has arrived in the meantime, I went home to see the family and walk the reconvalesecent dog for a few minutes (thus choosing to miss Friday Fermentable except for the last few minutes), then back to Sigma Xi for the WiSE networking event.
The place was packed (my estimate – 300 people) with women in science and engineering from local universities (Duke, NCSU, UNC, NCCU and others) as well as many participants of ScienceOnline09. This was an opportunity for local women in science not just to meet and network with each other (they can do that often as they are all local), but also to meet some of their superstar heroes they know only from the online world and who, just so happens, were in town that night. And in some cases, it was in reverse – guests from far away getting to meet their Triangle heroes, for instance when Erik, one of Miss Baker’s students sought out and found his hero – Meredith Barrett (picture by Miss Baker) – hard to tell which one of them was more excited about the meeting!
The high point of the evening was the talk by Rebecca Skloot about the origin of HeLa cells, ubiqutous tools in cell biology and cancer research, and the difficult process of writing a book about this. The talk was edge-of-the-seat gripping and quite thought-provoking with several layers of ethical issues involved: the ethics of the doctors who took the cells from Henrietta Lacks, the ethics of scientists who started using the cells, the ethics of business that produce and sell the HeLa cells, the ethics of interviewing the family and writing her book, and the ethical question of what to do with the proceeds and whatever moral obligation the scientific community may have towards the descendants of Henrietta Lacks. It is a mind-boggling case for legal scholars and ethicists to ponder, and quite an eye-opener for the biomedical research community.
After the talk, and schmoozing over delicious chocolate cake a little more, we went over to the hotel, where Ocean Bloggers, with funny hats, were singing shanties….
While the Nature Network bloggers meetup, with guests, was at the next table – it just looks serene because of the contrast with the marine rambunctiousness next door…
The blog/media coverage linkfest is growing fast (perhaps start at the bottom and work your way up, posting comments on the way), there are ongoing discussions on FriendFeed and new pictures on Flickr.
Also, if you were there, please fill up this short form to give us feedback, so we can make next year’s meeting even better.
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